AT this time of the year, members of investment societies, or stockvels, are known to withdraw their money for use during the festive season. While this is an exciting time, it is also marked by an increase in crime.In past years, SAPS have observed that stokvels are often targeted by criminals, with members being robbed while withdrawing their savings at ATMs and others being targeted while sharing their savings at home.This week, the Fever spoke to Kokstad SAPS spokesperson Captain Dumisani Ncongo, who cautioned stokvel groups in the community, advising them about safety during the festive season.Ncongo said members of stokvels must refrain from depositing their cash during busy days, especially on pay day. Additionally, stokvel members should go in groups to make withdrawals, or arrange electronic transfers with banks, to avoid being robbed by criminals. He also cautioned against carrying lots of cash.“We have received reports about victims who were followed by criminals from banks after withdrawing cash and others are followed to their places of work, homes, and cars. Community members must use mobile banking instead of carrying large amounts of cash.” He also warned small businesses to be vigilant when withdrawing large amounts of money for paying weekly staff.“In most cases, robbers are armed and resort to violence when victims resist and this has been common in cities,” he said.TIPS FOR A SAFER FESTIVE SEASON• Carry as little cash as possible • Consider the convenience of paying accounts electronically or make use of cellphone banking or internet transfers • Never display money while walking in town or standing in the queue at the bank• Avoid carrying money-bags and receipt books openly.• Community members should refrain from giving out wages of workers in the full view of the public, instead they should use wage accounts that are provided by banks. Ncongo said SAPS will be patrolling in all areas for a safer festive season.